Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY, Plaintiff, Civil Action No. 17-652 (BAH) v. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION On March 9, 2017, Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), appeared on the CNBC program “Squawk Box” and stated, regarding carbon dioxide created by human activity, that “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” and “there’s a tremendous disagreement about of [sic] the impact” of “human activity on the climate.” Compl., ¶ 18–19, ECF No. 1. Noting that these public statements by the EPA Administrator “stand in contrast to published research and conclusions of the EPA,” id. ¶ 20, the plaintiff, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (“PEER”), a “non-profit organization dedicated to research and public education concerning the activities and operation of [the] federal . . . government[],” id. ¶ 2, submitted a request to EPA, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, for agency records “relied upon by Administrator Pruitt in making these statements and any EPA documents that support the conclusions that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change,” Compl. ¶ 21. EPA has performed no search for and produced no records in response to the plaintiff’s FOIA request. See generally, Def.’s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.’s MSJ”), Ex. C, Decl. of Brian Hope, 1 Deputy Director, Office of Executive Secretariat, Office of the EPA Administrator (Nov. 8, 2017) (“EPA Decl.”), ECF No. 13-5. Nonetheless, on this record, EPA now seeks summary judgment, Def.’s MSJ, ECF No. 13, and the plaintiff has cross-moved for summary judgment, Pl.’s Cross-Mot. Summ. J. & Opp’n Def.’s MSJ (“Pl.’s Cross-Mot.”), ECF No. 14. For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff’s cross-motion is granted, and EPA’s motion is denied. I. BACKGROUND The day after Administrator Pruitt made on-air public statements to the effect that “carbon dioxide created by human activity is not the primary driver of global climate change,” Pl.’s Mem. Supp. Pl.’s Cross-Mot. & Opp’n Def.’s MSJ (“Pl.’s Opp’n”) at 1, ECF No. 14-3, the plaintiff filed the FOIA request at issue, Compl. ¶ 21; EPA Decl. ¶ 3. As the plaintiff points out, in contrast to Administrator Pruitt’s statements on March 9, 2017, EPA states, on its “Causes of Climate Change” web page, that “‘[c]arbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change’ and that ‘[t]he primary human activity affecting the amount and rate of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.’” Compl. ¶ 20 (alterations in original). The plaintiff’s FOIA request sought “(1) [t]he documents that Administrator Pruitt relied upon in making these statements; and (2) [a]ny EPA documents that support the conclusion that human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change.” Def.’s MSJ, Attach. 2, Def.’s Statement of Material Facts Not In Genuine Dispute (“Def.’s SMF”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 13-2. ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals